The Cheerios and Milk of Drafting

Brian picWriting a short research theme on a financial topic might not be the most fun, and it’s certainly not as much fun as shopping. However, quite a few students get a new perspective on some aspect of money handling.

One student, though, came up to tell me that she was not enjoying the assignment, and I appreciated her frankness. She had chosen credit cards for a topic, and had a draft going with sources that compare debit cards, store cards, and credit cards.Uninspired female student attempting to write an essay

Looking at her draft revealed the cause of her sputtered enthusiasm. The draft was hard to follow. After a moment of head scratching, the obvious issue came clear: the draft lacked a peppy intro describing tension points and choices with the three types of card, and the end of the draft was vague and inconclusive. This is not a problem with drafting. Many people only discover what they are trying to say by writing and then figuring out what they think.

So when I asked this student, “If we had a conversation, and you wanted to persuade me in some direction about these cards, what would you say? Pretend I’m your elderly parent who’s stuck and might make a bad decision.”

confusion_is_a_prelude_to_clarity_tshirt-p235191923484780734zv2hp_400She perked up. Things had become personal, along with the pros and cons about each type of card. Now she was ready to pull her thoughts together and put a beginning and ending into her draft.

It’s not unusual to get the little picture first. Who hasn’t gotten lost in details when investigating a topic? It’s the uncomfortable feeling of one’s mind sinking under details that don’t yet add up to a big picture. It may be that it hasn’t occurred yet to even think in terms of a big picture.cheerios

The draft still probably isn’t this student’s favorite assignment, but definitely the flash that she can create a clear and persuasive statement in her own voice lifted the task from the merely dreary to the tolerably enjoyable.

As to the Cheerios and milk, well, that’s obvious isn’t it?

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